The Open Air Freezer

Above, a Varied Thrush tries to keep warm on the day of the solstice last month. Despite the sunny perch and the sprig of green, it is savagely cold.

This month has been so warm in the Pacific Northwest that it’s easy to forget that just a few weeks ago most of the country was experiencing deadly cold and winter storms. For us, winter solstice brought some of the first sunshine we’d had in a while. But the temperatures remained bitterly cold. After shoveling snow from our driveway, I grabbed the camera and walked up to the corner where dozens of Varied Thrushes were doing their best to stay alive.

This thrush found a bit of exposed curb to huddle against. A normally skittish species, she was so desperate to warm up that she didn’t flee when passersby came close:

These birds also found a place in the sun:

This one chose activity. After scampering about in the snow, she took flight across the road:

When I finished photographing these birds, I headed back to the warmth of the house—and a mild case of hypothermia. But the next morning, the birds were still out there, somehow surviving.

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